In 5,000 BC itself, natives at Ras Al Hamraa in Oman used sugarcane and date palm fronds to build boats and construction of boats and ships evolved to sail longer distances (3,000-1,300 BC), a presentation made by Dr. Ahmed Al Futaisi, the Minister of Transport and Communications, at the 1st World Congress on Maritime Heritage in Singapore 2019, revealed.
“Oman, known as “Majan”, became a maritime trading route and one of the most significant transit hubs in the ancient world. Merchants were skilled in maritime navigation and maritime trade required seals, weights and documented contracts,” the Minister said in the presentation.
According to the Minister, Oman was a strong business alley with many ancient civilizations and Omani ports were used to store the eastern goods (gold, silver, and Ivory), imported from the Indus Valley to be distributed in the regional ports like; Sumerian and Akkadian cities.
- Submit VAT returns on time to avoid fine: Tax Authority
- VAT in Oman: Submit returns on time to avoid penalties, says Tax Authority
- Over 1.5 million vehicles registered till June 2021 in Oman
- UAE to allow fully vaccinated expat residents from India, Pakistan to return
- Expat arrested for stealing money in Oman
“Queen Shamsaa (the Queen of Oman) made a trade agreement with the Akkadian King “Sargon” in 2,234 BC; some 5,400 men sailed from Oman to Mesopotamia in 34 trips. The successors of King Sargon tried to extend their authority on the maritime trade lines; “King Manishtusu”(2,292-2,306BC). Majan goods were essential in trading with Mesopotamia until the end of the 2,000BC,” the presentation read.
Ancient scripts discovered in Egypt documented the cultural and commercial relationships between Oman and Ancient Egypt
“Sacred sailing trips to the Land of Frankincense, known to the Pharos as “the Land of God”, exporting of Frankincense “Luban”,” the presentation read.
Oman (Majan) had solid commercial ties with the Civilization of the Indus Valley since the New Stone Age and continued during the Bronze Age (2600-1900BC).
Sugarcane boats coated with bitumen were commonly used by the inhabitants of the coastal areas of Oman since 3400 BC and during the Bronze Age.
Oman was described by historians and travellers like Alexander the Great, Yaqoot Alhamawy, Alazhari, Greek and Romanmapsas
The Omani Frankincense (Luban) was one of the best-selling products in the Iron Age.
The high demand for frankincense led moving fleets to search for its sources, concluding with a failing Roman campaign against Arabia in 24 BC.
Incense (Bakhoor) and Frankincense as the common gifts of Arabia to the Assyrian kings during the 8th and 7th centuries BC.
Trading activities continued through the Omani ports that connected the East to the West.
The most popular ports and harbours then were Maka (Ras Al Had), Osara (Raysut), Moshka Liman (Samahram), Orgis, Orakta, Organa, Saris (Island of Masirah), Qalhat, Muscanos (Muscat), Sohar, Dabangoris (Daba), Bitrasafafa (Seeb).
Maka (Ras Al Hadd)port was one of the Early Iron Age Omani ports. Cinnamon and other spices were exported from Makita harbour to the land of Assyria.
Port of Raysut harboured big ships and was used for exporting Frankincense. Chinese ships loaded with silk, Camphor, musk, and spices sail to Raysut port.
Samahram port’s unique location-overlooking the Indian Ocean-made it a global port, connected to all known parts of the world at that time (Arabian Peninsula, Gulf, Asia, Mediterian Sea countries, Egypt, and Aksum.
Wood panels belonging to ancient boats and ships have been discovered in Al Baleed site.
Anchors of big ships were also discovered dated to the Bronze and the Iron Age.
Port of Qalhat has a strategic location on the maritime trading routes between Oman and the Gulf, and between India and East Africa and the Red Sea.
Port of Muscat exported Nutmeg
Port of Muscat was the main port for Omanis in 180 AD and was popular for exporting Nutmeg. Its location connected all parts of Oman.
Port of Sohar was connecting ports of India, China, South Arabia, and East Africa.
Studies show that copper smelting took place in Sohar, to be then exported from the port of Sohar.
Port of Daba was one of the famous Omani ports. Merchants from Sindh, India, China, the East, and the West traded in Daba market.
The world civilizations used a network of land and sea trading routes for exchanging silk and spices from and to China.
This routes network was expanded at the beginning of the Middle Ages when Omani ships sailed since the 8th Century exploring new trading routes through the Indian Ocean.
Since then, Oman maintained strong maritime trade ties with China.
Trading activities and maritime navigation flourished as Omani ships sailed to the ports of India, Malabar Coast, Singapore, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, the Bay of Bengal to the Malay Archipelago, Sumatra Island, the island of Java, the islands of the Andaman, the Andaman Islands, Borneo Island, and the Philippines.
By the 9th century, trading between Oman and China became more active.
Omani who sailed to China
One of the famous Omani sailors in this period were Abu Obaida Abdullah Bin Al Qassim who sailed to the port of Guangzhou(Canton) in Chinain750AD.
Omanis’ knowledge about East Africa Coastal areas and their navigation experience enabled them to make two regular trips every year to these coasts; one in November and the other in April of every year.
Omanis established the Emirate of Lamu in 702 AD to be the first Arabic emirate in East Africa.
In the reign of the Imam Al Mohanna Bin Jaifar Al Kharousi(840-851AD), a large naval fleet consisting of 300 armed warships was established.
During the Middle Ages, European ambitions emerged to dominate East trade.
Portuguese gained control of the navigation routes and coasts of the Arabian Gulf, Indian Ocean, and East Africa. The International Trading Route was shifted from the Gulf and the RedSea to the Cape of Good Hope.
British presence started in 1600AD and Dutch in1602.
Omanis united and formed a strong naval fleet to fight and drive out European naval forces under the leadership of Imam Nasser bin Murshid Al-Yaraibi (1624AD).
Omani Naval fleet was successful in freeing Vasa, located on the coasts of East Africa, chased the Portuguese completely out of the Arabian Gulf away and liberated Mombasa and lead to the evacuation of all Portuguese forces from Bemba, Kloh, Bata, and Zanzibar.
The Omani Navy was successful in driving out Portuguese out of their last stronghold in Muttrah and Muscat.
During the reign of Imam Ahmad bin Saeed (1744 AD), Oman continued to consolidate its status and prestige, making the Dutch and English authorities recognize the Omani sovereignty over many of the shores of the Gulf and the Indian Ocean.
In 1775 AD, the Persians surrounded Basra and their people sought to rescue from Imam Ahmed bin Said, who equipped a naval fleet and managed to free the port.
(To be continued…)